CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS AND ATTITUDE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN UMUAHIA EDUCATION ZONE ABIA STATE
Background of the Study
Climate is the major factor controlling the global patterns of vegetation structure, productivity, plant and animal species composition. Climate means the average weather in a place over many years. While weather can change in just a few hours, climate takes years to change. According to Small and Nicholis (2003), climate is the average weather for a particular region over a long time. It describes the total of all weather occurring over a long period of years in a given place. This includes average weather conditions, regular weather season (winter, spring, summer and fall) and special weather events (like tornadoes and floods). These climate patterns play a fundamental role in shaping natural ecosystems, and the human economic and cultures that depend on them.
Climate change means average seasonal change over a long period of time Igwe (2003) defined climate change as the variation in global or regional climates over time. It reflects changes state of the atmosphere over time scales ranging from decade to thousands of years. Climate change according to Nzewi (2009) refers to the measurable increase in the average temperature of earth’s atmosphere, oceans and landmasses. Ezeudu (2009) defined climate change as a long term significant change in the average weather that a given region experience. Nwagu & Nzewi (2009) explained that climate change is the significant change in weather (wind, precipitation and temperature) over an extended period of time. Udenyi (2010) stressed that climate change is simply a change in the climate condition of the world and the change if found by the scientists and other concerned agencies to be on the increase line. In the context of study, climate change means thesignificant and measurable change of the global temperature which is believed to be rather on the increase.
The earth’s climate is dynamic and always changing through a natural cycle. However, what the world is more worried about is that the changes that are occurring today have been speeded up because of human activities (Okebukola & Akpan 2009). Similarly, Uzochi (2009a) remarked that human have been changing their environment in very significant ways ever since they learnt how to hunt with weapons, domesticate animals and farm crops, in addition to human modernized transportation and industrial system, which facilitate easy movement and production.
The impact of these human activities to the climate change comes as a result of excessive emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. According to Sjoberg (2002), greenhouse gases mean the gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. The gases include carbon dioxide, methane, chloroflorocarbon, water vapour, and nitrous oxide. Igwe (2003) explained that a greenhouse gas is a gas in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature that the earth experience because certain gases in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour, nitrous oxide and chloroflorocarbon trap energy from the sun and retain greater part of the trapped energy which caused the warming and changing of the global climate experienced in the world today.
Furthermore, the concentration of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere caused ozone layer depletion. The ozone layer forms a thin shield high up in the sky and is located in the stratosphere. It protects life on earth from the sun’s ultra violent rays. In the 1980s, scientists began finding clues that the ozone layer was going away or being depleted. This ozone depletion allows more ultra violent radiation to reach the earth’s surface and it increase the rate at which the global climate changes.
The increase rate of climate change has severe consequences associated with it such as desertification, drought, temperature rise, low agriculture yield, drying up of water bodies, flooding among others (Oruonye, 2011). Similarly, Igwebuike, Odoh, Ezeugwu, Okparaku and Opkaraku (2009) enumerated the effects of climate change to include melting of the polar ice which could lead to rise in sea level. The rise in sea level could cause flood disaster (which can wash away farmland and crops, in addition to rendering the affected people homeless). Ekezie (2010) stated that the rise in temperature as a result of climate change could lead to drought, desertification, declining water table, lost of some plant and animal species, low crop yield and outbreak of climate related diseases like malaria and meningitis. These consequences of climate change according Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) could persist for longer time as a result of human continuous emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In view of the above, Omotosho (2007), Ishaya & Obaja (2008), Anyadike (2009), and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2010) argued that human continuous perpetuation of acts that caused the excessive emission of greenhouse gases such as bush burning, indiscriminate cutting down of trees (deforestation), constant burning of fossil fuel among others, depends to the extent to which they are aware that their activities contribute to climate change.
Oragwam (2004) described awareness as a state of consciousness and purpose. Chinedu (2008) viewed awareness as the condition of being aware and able to understand what is happening around one. Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel or to be conscious of events, objects or sensory patterns. Awareness means having idea of the existence of something. In relation with the above views, Wikipedia (2009) equates awareness with knowledge of, understanding of, appreciation of, recognition of, attention to, perception of, conscious of, acquaintance with, enlightenment with, mindfulness of, cognizance of, something. Belloti (2002) explained that awareness involves knowing who is talking with whom; it provides a view of one another in the daily work environment. In the context of this study, though in relation to the above views, awareness implies understanding and knowledge of the activities and events (like climate change) going on around one’s environment. This knowledge and understanding to a large extent influenced one’s attitude towards such event (s) in one’s environment.
Attitude, according to Abini (2006), is an acquisitioned tendency. Abini explained further that pupil’s form attitude through either like or dislike, favourable or unfavourable. Williams (2000) defined attitude as readiness to act in a certain way expressed by a person’s words, gestures or facial expression. This contention is upheld because one’s action is buttressed by one’s facial outlook, the way one behaves and presents his ideas about the subject matter. Good (2001) on the other hand defined attitude as a state of mental and emotional readiness to response previously conditioned or associated stimuli. For Kent (2002), attitude is a mental and natural state of readiness organized through experiences, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s responses to all objects and situation with which it is related. The above definition s presents attitude to mean the way an individual thinks or acts towards a given subject or issue. Therefore, climate change attitude means the way of thinking and acting by individual towards the issue of global climate change. It is the feelings and concerns an individual could have regarding climate change.
In relation to the above discussions, attempt has been made to increase students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change in secondary schools. For example, climate and general environmental related contents like our environment, physical environment, sanitation
pollution, natural and man made environmental hazards, deforestation, population, effects of industrial concentration, composition of atmospheric gases, weather and climate, classification of climate, major climate types of the world, were infused in most secondary school subjects like Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Agriculture, and Social Studies. These contents and subjects are veritable means of promoting climate change awareness and attitude of secondary school students in Nigeria. With respect to the above, Ishaya & Obaja (2008) noted secondary school teachers have been inculcating climate change contents infused into their respective subjects to the students with the intention of increasing their knowledge of climate change as well as influencing their attitude positively towards solving the problems of climate change. Againde (2006) added that schools through classroom instructions are making effort to create awareness on major environmental problems like climate change. Similarly, Chinedu (2008) and Ofoebe (2009) shared the view that the curriculum contents of most secondary school subjects could be effectively used to promote awareness of environmental problems as well as positive attitude towards solving the environmental problems.
In spite of the efforts, through school instructions to promote awareness and attitude towards environmental problems particularly climate change, it appears that the programme is not yielding the desired result. This is because, people (including those who passed through the instructional programme in school) seem to have continued perpetuating actions such as bush burning, deforestation, burning of fossil fuel like petrol, coal, and crude oil which contribute to climate change. It is worthy of note that as these human actions that contribute to climate change continue, so shall the consequences of climate change continue to face human beings on earth. Thus, there is need to determine the extent to which instructional delivery in schools through infusion strategy has increase the awareness and attitude of students towards climate change.
In determining students’ level of awareness and attitude towards climate change, considerations need to be taken on the influence of gender and location on students’ climate change awareness and attitude. According to Lee (2001) gender is an ascribed attribute that differentiates feminine from masculine socially. Gender is seen as the categorization in the world of matter into sex. According to Kalusi (2000), gender is a cultural construction that assigns roles, attitude and values considered appropriate for each sex. Ekeh (2000) noted that gender implies the character of being male or female, man or women, boy or girl. Robert (2007) defined gender as a social construct which is not biologically determined but a concept equivalent to race or class. Offorma (2004) viewed gender as a learned socially constructed condition ascribed to male and female. Offorma noted further that gender is enforced through cultural practices as gender identity is the outcome of cultural learning thus, the expectations from male and female are depended on their cultural millieous.
These expectations could influence the way individual perceived environmental problems like climate change. Discussing on gender and environmental relations, Ekezie (2010) stressed that gender is an important variable in environmental discussion. According to Ekezie (2010), females appear to be closer to the environment than their male counterparts in the sense that they need forest for food generation as well as for fuel wood used for cooking. However, Chinedu (2008) noted that while the females relate with the environment in a friendly manner than their male counterparts. That is, the females merely engaged the environment for agricultural purpose while males engaged the environment for different purposes which are more serious such as falling forest trees for timber, clearing forest for construction of road, building of houses and factories amongst others.
With respect to the above views, Ofoebe (2009) presented the view that environmental sensitization programmes in and outside the school should take into cognizance the gender difference or the physiological difference between male and female which are obvious and expectedly affect the ways in which both sexes respond to the environmental issues as climate change. Oruonye (2011) noted that the different ways male and female are socialized tend to determined their environmental exploration, degree of environmental manipulation and overall relationship with the environment, including the general awareness and attitude towards environmental problems like climate change. Indeed, the present study sought among other things to determine if gender has influence on students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change as a peculiar environmental problem.
On the other hand, location of individuals could also affect their awareness and attitude towards climate change. Location according to Benton (2000) is a geographical place or an area. Ogunniyi (2008) opined that location can also mean a settlement whether a village, town or city usually by human beings. Igwe (2003) defined location as a place where something or person resides in the world. Location in the context of this study means a geographical place or area where somebody or something is situated. It could be rural or urban area.
Rural areas are often made up of villages which may either be dispersed, nucleated or even linear in their pattern of distribution on the land, with few buildings and little number of people. It offers its settlers a simple and quiet life style. Their major economic activity is farming with few amenities and services centres. Thus, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2010), climate change awareness and attitude of the rural dwellers in Nigeria is directly proportional to the quantity and quality of information prevalent and available to them. Urban areas are relatively large, dense and permanent settlement of socially heterogeneous individuals. They could be towns, cities, conurbations or metropolis. Urban areas have some characteristics – a large and heterogeneous population, medical and political facilities, educational, recreational, banking administrative and social activities, with highly developed manpower (male and female), artisans etc who engage in non-agricultural occupations, with highly impersonal relations. It is the opposite of rural areas, with its sophisticated life and life activities.
The above disparity between the urban and rural areas could influence their awareness and attitude towards climate change. In line with this assumption, Nicholis and Small (2003) opined that where people live (location) determine the how much information and knowledge that get to them particularly in developing countries like Nigeria. Although, Agiande (2006) found out in a study in Calabar that location is no longer a barrier to students’ knowledge of environmental problems (like climate change). Ishaya and Obaje (2008) in a study in Kaduna also found out that location has no significant influence on students’ awareness of the problems of climate change. The present study intends to determine if location have influence on students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change in Umuahia education zone of Abia State.
Indeed, few studies have been done to determine the students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change. For instance, Ishaya & Abaje (2008) studied indigenous people’s perception on climate change and adaptation strategies in senior secondary schools in Jema Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The study found out that the students’ possessed low awareness and poor attitude towards climate change. Oruonye (2011) carried out assessment of the level of awareness of the effects of climate change among students in Jalingo Metropolis of Tabara State. The study found that the students used for the study are not aware of climate change and that they possessed low attitude towards climate change. Furthermore, related studies have been done on environmental education awareness and attitude of students by Ofoebe (2009), Chinedu (2008) and Agiande (2006) in Okigwe Education Zone, Imo State. Owerri Education Zone, Imo State. Ogoja Education Zone, Cross River State respectively. Even though related studies have been done with respect to secondary school students’ climate change awareness and attitude, none of the studies were carried out in Abia State. Thus, at present the status of secondary school students’ awareness and attitude in Abia State is not known. This gap is what the present study tends to fill by determining the climate change awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students in Umuahia Education Zone, Abia State.
Statement of the Problem
The inherent danger of climate change at present constitutes one major global problem. In Nigeria, the consequences of climate change have started manifesting in form of desertification, drought, temperature rise, low agricultural yield, dry up of water bodies, flooding among others. To curtail these climate change consequences, climate related contents were infused into most secondary school curriculum. This infusion strategy was meant to create awareness and positive attitude towards environmental problems like climate change. However, the worry is that notwithstanding, the instructional effort in school to promote awareness and positive attitude towards climate change, people tend to continue in perpetuating the acts that increase the rate of climate change. Indeed, studies have been done in some parts of Nigeria like Kaduna, Imo and Cross River states to examine students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change as a result of school instructions. The major worry of the study is that it appears that such crucial contemporary study has not been done in Abia State. This gap is what the present study intends to fill.
Based on the above gap, the problem of the study put in question form is what is the climate change awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students in Umuahia Education Zone of Abia State?
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of the study is to determine the climate change awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students in Umuahia Education Zone. Specifically, the study intends to;
i) Ascertain the extent of senior secondary school students awareness of climate change.
ii) determine senior secondary school students’ attitudes towards climate change.
iii) ascertain the extent of climate change awareness of senior secondary school students in terms of gender.
iv) determine climate change attitude of senior secondary school students in terms of gender.
v) ascertain the extent of climate change awareness of senior secondary school students in terms of school location.
vi) determine climate change attitudes of senior secondary school students in terms of school location.
Significance of the Study
This study anchored on functionalism theory. The theory holds that malfunctioning of any part of a system affects the general functioning of the entire system. The planet earth is a system with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and human beings as the crucial parts. Therefore, malfunction of any part will affect the functioning of the entire system. The findings of the study will help to support the functionalism theory by showing how negative attitudes of people towards the environment affect the functioning of the planet earth and this will help to sustain the relevance of the theory.
The study will also be significant to the students, government, society and curriculum planners. The students stand a chance of benefiting from the study as it will present them opportunity to appraise themselves particularly on their level of awareness and attitude towards climate change. This will be possible because as the students will be actively involved in the study through responding to the items of the research instruments, they will understand (as they read through the items) the issues in climate change such its meaning, causes, effects as well as the positive attitudes needed for cautioning further increase and effects of climate change.
For the government and other environmentally focused non-governmental organizations, the findings of the study will help to show the students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change. This findings will enable the government and other concerned non governmental organizations to ascertain if environmentally relevant school subjects like Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Physics, Social studies and Basic science have actually promoted students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change. Again, non school based programmes like radio jingles, television programmes and newspaper articles are really creating awareness on climate change and influencing peoples’ attitude towards climate change positively.
Furthermore, the society which could be seriously affected as a result of the increasing change in global climate will benefit from the present study. The society will benefit because when the study successfully assessed the students’ awareness and attitude towards climate change, the result will serve as a base on which both government and other environmental concerned organizations will either choose to intensify their awareness and attitudinal change campaign or choose to re-strategize their campaign approach towards saving the environment. This by implication will help to increase individual members of the society’s awareness and positive attitude towards climate change thereby reducing human activities that contribute to climate change and by extension save the society and its people from destructive effect of climate change.
The curriculum planners will also benefit from the present study. This is because the successful completion of the study will enable the curriculum planners to have the knowledge (through the students mean scores) of the climate change awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students. This knowledge will help the curriculum planners to determine if the senior secondary school curriculum needs to be revisited so that more contents that could help to raise the level of awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students on climate change will be added if necessary.
Scope of the Study
This study will be limited to the climate change awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students. The study will cover the meaning of climate change, causes and effects of climate change as well as the strategies for promoting climate change in school. The study will be carried out in all the senior secondary class two (SS2) in Umuahia Education Zone, Abia State.
The following research questions guided the study.
1) What is the climate change awareness mean score of senior secondary school students in Umuahia education zone?
2) What is the attitude mean score of students towards climate change?
3) What are the climate change awareness mean scores of male and female students?
4) What are the attitude mean scores of male and female students towards climate change?
5) What are the climate change awareness mean scores of students in terms of school location?
6) What are the attitude mean scores of students towards climate change in terms of school location?
1) There is no significant difference (p<0.05) in the climate change awareness mean score of male and female senior secondary school students.
2) There is no significant difference (p<0.05) in the attitude mean score of male and female senior secondary school students towards climate change.
3) There is no significant difference (p<0.05) in the climate change awareness mean score of urban and rural senior secondary school students.
4) There is no significant difference (p<0.05) in the attitude mean score of urban and rural senior secondary school students towards climate change..